During April, West Michigan is in the heart of the spring season. The typical high temperature warms from 52 degrees on April 1, to 64 degrees on April 30. Overnight low temperatures take a 10 degree rise going from 32 degrees to 43 degrees.
We typically see more rain than snow in April. Snow can fall right until the final days of the month, but any accumulating snow melts rapidly under the April sunshine.
Actual and potential sunshine continue to increase during the month. We gain an hour and twenty minutes of daylight and even the percent of possible sunshine increases. In April we typically see 52 percent of possible sunshine.
After a warm and wet March, drier than average conditions may prevail for April and continue into June. As far as temperature, the official forecast for April, is for equal chances for above, near and below normal temperatures. Warmer than average conditions may return as summer approaches.
There are many interesting weather events for April, snowstorms don’t get the top billing but severe thunderstorms and tornadoes do. I’ll just highlight a few of them from the National Weather Service Archives. To see the complete list, ‘Subscribe’ to the Grand Rapids Weather examiner for a daily email of historical events.
In 2010, West Michigan saw observed record temperatures for the first few says of the month. Click this link to read more on the record warm spell.
April 3, 1956, eighteen people are killed and over 300 injured as four powerful tornadoes strike western Lower Michigan. Hudsonville and the northwest suburbs of Grand Rapids are the hardest hit areas with 17 fatalities as homes and businesses were completely swept away by an F5 tornado.
April 4, 2003, a devastating ice storm strikes central Lower Michigan. Heavy rain from thunderstorms falls into a layer of cold air near the ground and freezes on contact, creating sheaths of ice up to 3 inches thick that brings down thousands of tree limbs. It was estimated that 450,000 homes and businesses lost power during the storm and that nearly 50,000 people were without power for a week as persistent cold temperatures keep the heavy ice on the trees for four days after the storm. Crews came from four different states to help local utility companies restore power.
April 8, 1947, three to five inches of rain and warmer temperatures combine with melting snowpack and partially frozen ground to cause some disastrous flooding along the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers. Millions of dollars of damage occurred as large sections of Grand Rapids, including the Comstock Park area, were under several feet of water.
April 11, 1965, the second worst tornado outbreak in United States history struck from Iowa to Ohio, killing 256 people. In Michigan, the worst damage is near the Indiana state line as two violent tornadoes moved on parallel tracks about a half hour apart, killing 44 people and injuring hundreds. A tornado struck northwest of Grand Rapids, killing five people in Comstock Park. One person was killed by a tornado that moved from near Dewitt in Clinton County to Bennington in Shiawassee County.
April 13, 1950, high temperatures struggle to reach the mid and upper 20s across Lower Michigan after morning lows in the teens. At Lansing the high temperature is only 24 degrees after a morning low of 17.
April 13, 1952, the 0.7 inches of snow that fell at Grand Rapids is the last measurable snow of a record-breaking winter. It brings the seasonal total to 144.1 inches, roughly twice the amount of a normal winter’s snowfall.
April 20, 1966, a tornado killed livestock and damaged a barn and garage in Morley in Mecosta County. Another tornado hit Peach Ridge in Kent County, damaging a steel tower.
April 24, 1980, only two days after setting record highs in the 80s, a record snowfall blankets Lower Michigan. Grand Rapids sets a record for the date with 2.4 inches of snow, after hitting 86 degrees on April 22.
April 29, 1909, heavy rain mixed with snow sets records across Lower Michigan. The daily total liquid equivalent precipitation is 2.53 inches at Grand Rapids, and this includes a daily record of 2.2 inches of snow. The 1.75 inches at Lansing includes four inches of snow. Temperatures remain in the 30s all day.